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Shhh ... don’t tell Mrs. Allen

(above) Students at Poulsbo Middle gathered for a hero’s farewell (for the weekend). Allen has raised more than $5,000 to participate in today’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Hike for Discovery. (right) Poulsbo Middle seventh-grade teacher Amy Allen receives a gift basket and happy wishes from PMS students Thursday. Allen will honor her father’s memory in today’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Hike for Discovery. - Celeste Cornish/Staff photos
(above) Students at Poulsbo Middle gathered for a hero’s farewell (for the weekend). Allen has raised more than $5,000 to participate in today’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Hike for Discovery. (right) Poulsbo Middle seventh-grade teacher Amy Allen receives a gift basket and happy wishes from PMS students Thursday. Allen will honor her father’s memory in today’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Hike for Discovery.
— image credit: Celeste Cornish/Staff photos

PMS students give props to teacher for raising money to fight cancer.

POULSBO — An underground, highly secretive effort to honor a teacher at Poulsbo Middle made telling a little white lie OK. When the school’s cheerleaders attended school in uniform on Thursday, inquiring minds wanted to know if spirit day was being celebrated a day early.

If seventh-grade teacher Amy Allen asked, the answer was definitely yes.

The fact of the matter was the cheerleaders were part of an organized celebration to give Allen props for raising $5,395 (as of noon Thursday) for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). As if raising that kind of cash wasn’t enough, she’s also going to strap on her hiking boots for an 18-mile traipse around Mount Rainier today for the LLS Hike for Discovery.

To participate in the hike, Allen had to raise a minimum of $2,000. Fueled by her first-hand experience with lymphoma — her father lost his years-long battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Sept. 5 — Allen set up a Web site and asked her network of friends and family to donate whatever they could. The money raised will benefit cancer research efforts.

In no time, she blew past the minimum requirement. Donations are still rolling in. She was amazed by the generosity of those close to her, she said.

To prep for the hike, she met up with a group of about 30 others for hikes in the Cascade Mountains.

Unfortunately, her training took a back seat over the summer when her father’s condition worsened.

“He was quite sick this summer,” said Allen, who spent her summer traveling to and from Sacramento, Calif., to be with him.

For Allen, the experience is all about paying tribute to her father. For the students, it’s about supporting her in any way they can. With minimal finances, three seventh-grade teachers pooled resources to send Allen off with a hero’s farewell for her hike. She’s scheduled to be back in school on Monday morning, a thought that moved her to nervous laughter.

At the start of fourth period, students in Blazer Hall had just a few minutes to put the finishing touches on their surprise. In a flurry of activity, the students signed oversized cards, gathered their “good luck” signs and went outside. After a skit and a personalized cheer just for Mrs. Allen, she was presented with a basket full of goodies, courtesy of Ann Masters’ and Chris Frazier’s students.

“I was very happy and surprised,” Allen said of the gift basket and well wishers.

The students took pleasure and pride in being able to support Allen’s efforts — and keep their support secret.

“Every time she reaches into that basket she’ll think of her dad and all the support she had from the kids,” said fellow seventh-grade teacher (and lead conspirator) Cindy Nausid.

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